In this article we will see, When Was Ikea Founded and its history.
Ikea is a multinational company dealing essentially in household goods with their main products being modern easy-to-assemble furniture and kitchen appliances. The brand has its presence in more than 50 countries around the world and is one of the leading consumers of wood in the retail sector.
With its headquarters at Delft, Netherlands, Ikea has retained its tag of being the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2006. This consistency in its success can be laid down to a number of factors such as the company’s attention to cost-cutting measures, operational procedures, and the will to ever improve their product.
Ikea was founded by then 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad on July 28, 1943, as a small mail-order business selling small products like pens, stationeries, etc. The company began selling furniture five years later and crossed a number of milestones on its way to becoming the retailer giant it is today.
Since its inception in the early 1940s, IKEA has grown to be one of the leading retail companies in the world and is the largest dealer of furniture worldwide. In this article, we shall be taking a look at the history of IKEA and what are the significant milestones the brand has achieved along its way to what the brand is today.
Under this section, we shall be taking a look at the formative years of IKEA, i.e., up to the year 1990.
1933 – early 1940s
This is the year in which IKEA’s to-be founder, Ingvar Kamprad is born in the maternity department of a hospital at Almhult, Sweden.
As a child, Ingvar was always very sure of wanting to create a business of his own someday, and ever since those days, he was always on the lookout for how to make money. His first step to fulfilling his dream was in 1931 when a five-year-old Ingvar began selling matches.
From here on, he continued his adventures in the business domain and there have been reports suggesting that he had sold cards, plant seeds, and pens to his neighbors during this period, on his bike.
The year in which the first IKEA store was founded; with an acronym which Ingvar had come up with on his own. The story behind this goes something like this – Ingvar had performed well in a test at his school that pleased his dad. Knowing his son’s great interest in business, Ingvar’s father gives his son a small sum of money, which was invested by the latter in setting up the first IKEA store ever. His store back then sold petty items like pens, wallets, photo frames, and other such stationery items.
This is the year when Ingvar Kamprad sold furniture for the first time from his IKEA store. Little did he know at the time that this would go on to change his company’s fortune forever. The furniture sets sold by the company at the initial stages included those manufactured by the local producers.
This is another monumental year in the history of IKEA. Other brands felt threatened by the prices offered at the IKEA stores and even after trying out several formulations, they could not find a way to match the prices. This led them to put pressure on the local suppliers to boycott the brand completely. They also prevented Ingvar from presenting any of his furniture in any of his stores, and even fairs. On their website, IKEA mentions how this forced their founder to change his business ideas and look for foreign collaborations instead.
This is also the same year in which the first IKEA catalog was published, which has gone on to become one of the icons for the brand.
In the early days of IKEA, Ingvar was very bothered with the high transportation and damage rates of his products. After spending some time trying to come up with a viable solution, an idea finally struck Ingvar. He introduced flat-pack furniture sets, which could be shipped in fragments and then be easily assembled by the consumers. This was a game-changing idea as this would reduce transportation costs dramatically and also, reduce the risks of damages. The idea managed to achieve its intended goals and continues to be a tradition of IKEA even to this day.
1960 – 1989
These are the years which saw IKEA achieve a number of goals including setting up permanent stores and showrooms in Sweden and foreign countries, the inauguration of IKEA restaurants, and establishing a new owner structure to ensure a sustainable future for the brand. In the year 1970, a fire caused massive damage in the flagship IKEA store located in Stockholm. This led IKEA to change how their stores work and gave them further impetus to come up with products easy to be stored and could be easily assembled by their owners. They came up with a self-service area, where customers can pick up their goods and take them home. The idea proved to be a massive success and improved sales dramatically once the store reopened in the following year, i.e., 1971.
It was also during this time that Ingvar Kamprad wrote, “The Testament of a Furniture Dealer”, which also gave the motto of IKEA – creating better everyday lives for the masses.
In this stage, we will be taking a look at the more recent years of IKEA as a brand and the significant milestones achieved by it since 1990.
IKEA comes up with the term “democratic design”, which has been considered to be a masterstroke in terms of marketing a product. In their website, IKEA notes the statement of a renowned archivist who was quite simply astounded by seeing the term while he was in Milan, Italy. There have been surveys that show how remarkably IKEA’s sales had increased during the period, with the success being attributed to this idea.
‘Sow seed’ campaign was launched this year. A forest fire at a rainforest in Malaysia had caused 18500 hectares of forest area to be damaged. On knowing about this, IKEA founder, Ingvar Kamprad wanted to help regenerate the forest area. This led to the funding of the Sow seed project being provided by IKEA. To this date, the project has been successful in regenerating around 12500 hectares of rainforest area. Initially, this was a one of its kind project in which a brand had put so much effort into the regeneration of the environment.
IKEA came up with TVs which garnered considerable excitement considering the brand’s brilliant track record of coming up with just the right products each and every time. However, the plan did not quite go all according to plans and the TVs turned out to be a flop. IKEA has been humble enough to acknowledge that they shouldn’t have ventured into such unchartered territories without expert opinion and they had soon phased out all their TVs realizing their faults.
IKEA stopped manufacturing either halogen or fluorescent bulbs by September 2015, and made the switch to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for all their lighting sold globally. This was an important step keeping in mind the increasing levels of environmental pollution and scarcity of electrical energy and IKEA was widely appreciated for the move.
In this article, we have seen how IKEA had been started as a very humble brand by a teenager and its journey to becoming the largest furniture retailer in the world. One notable thing throughout the brand’s illustrious history of 78 years is how it has never hesitated from adapting to new technologies and coming up with innovative solutions to seemingly daunting problems.
The ideas behind IKEA’s emergence as a leading consumer brand can be the perfect highlight on how to sustain the relevance of any brand over so many years. Even to this day, IKEA continues to grow and the leaders and the employees keep trying to come up with solutions that would further strengthen IKEA’s goals and objectives.
Frequently Asked Questions
We took a look at the most searched questions on the web about IKEA and its history. Here, we have compiled some of them along with the most appropriate answers.
Question. What made IKEA so successful?
Many say that IKEA revolutionized the furniture market as a whole and one of the major reasons behind the brand’s success can be attributed to the fact that it succeeded in reducing the price of its items to a great extent and continues to do so every year. IKEA is credited to be the first brand that made cheap furniture to be socially acceptable. In addition to this, a number of other factors such as improved quality and design, smart marketing strategies, and easy to assemble furniture sets also contribute to the unimaginable success of IKEA as a furniture brand.
Question. What does IKEA stand for?
Many may not know this fact but the name IKEA is actually an acronym which was designed by its founder, Ingvar Kamprad while setting up the company. He took the initials ‘I’ and ‘K’ from his own name, while the ‘E’ stands for Elmtaryd (the farm where he had grown up), and the ‘A’ for Agunnaryd (his hometown). The brand has remodeled its logo a number of times before settling for its current one and claims that each of their logos are designed keeping their Swedish origins in mind.
Question. Can I get a job at IKEA?
Similar to all the other companies, IKEA goes on a hiring drive once or twice a year. People can apply for any vacant role which they feel they might be suitable for or they might end up getting a call from the company itself. The interview process is quite an extensive one and usually consists of three rounds – phone interviews, on-site interviews, and the hiring decision. IKEA is known for providing good facilities to their employees all over the world and also, for providing sufficient career growth opportunities. IKEA has also been called multiple times in the ‘Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work In’ list, which backs up the good reviews which the company usually enjoys in terms of employability.
Question. What makes IKEA unique?
In order to maintain their success model over the years, IKEA has never failed to adapt to the new technologies of the day or to find new interesting ideas to engage and attract their customers. Long ago, IKEA started shipping out their furniture as pieces that can easily be assembled even by a layman. This reduced the shipping costs drastically, allowing them to focus more on improving their products and producing them at a significantly lower price than all of its competitors. Also, IKEA has been praised over the years for its simplistic yet attractive, modern designs which attract even those customers who can easily afford more expensive furniture.